Female entrepreneurs are on the way up in Egypt and at the fore is Hanan Solyaman, who was recently ranked one of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business Magazine. In 2010, she established the Mandara media portal in Upper Egypt as an independent media production and training initiative.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was working as a journalist in Rosalyoussef’s Foreign Desk and in 2010 I participated in a fellowship with the World Press Institute in the US which immerses journalists into media culture. We visited some outlets like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times plus hyper-locals models like the Bay Citizen and Chicago News Coop.
I got interested in this kind of locally-focused journalism as it gives the opportunity to engage the community with specific coverage. So I decide to build this model in Egypt, and I founded Mandara Media Foundation as the first independent media portal in Upper Egypt.
What other services does Mandara offer?
We offer journalism workshops in underserved regions to foster and empower would-be writers. So far, we’ve provided training programs that include news and feature writing, photojournalism, investigative reporting and social journalism in Al-Fayoum, Al-Menia and Aswan.
What are your plans for expansion?
First we need to establish a stronger marketing strategy to attract a larger audience. Our goal is to reach at least 1 million of Upper Egypt’s youth. In my opinion, they have an important role in realizing change. And since they’re hooked into technology, we preferred to make an online portal rather than local print runs. Moreover, we aim to be Upper Egypt’s main portal for ads, services, and information about competitions, prices, and events.